SOU president leads in protection of immigrant and international students

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott continues to take a leadership role in support of immigrant and international students, serving as an early member of the new Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

The alliance – which was formed earlier this month and has quickly grown to more than 150 members – is a collective effort by college and university leaders across the U.S. to address immigration issues that may affect their students. Members will work together to support federal and state policies that create welcoming environments for immigrant, undocumented and international students.

Higher education presidents and chancellors formed the organization as members of Congress began their lead-up to a likely vote on extending some form of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The White House decreed in September that Congress must act within six months to prevent the program’s cancellation and the deportation of its participants, and several members of Congress have suggested that a proposal is likely in January.

President Schott has been vocal in her support for the program, which offers immigrants who grew up in the U.S. without legal documentation an opportunity to remain as they pursue school or work goals.

“We do not have a large number of DACA students at SOU, but our institution recognizes that it is critically important for all people to have the opportunity to learn and grow,” President Schott said. “We value the rights of all students – regardless of their immigration status, nationality, gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation or political persuasion – and are unconditionally committed to preserving them.”

While DACA is the most urgent priority of the new alliance of higher education leaders, the organization will also seek to modernize other portions of U.S. immigration law that was originally drafted in the 1950s. Alliance members will urge lawmakers to recognize today’s global interconnectedness and the importance of maintaining U.S. universities and colleges as premier academic destinations for students worldwide

In addition to her membership in the new Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, President Schott is one of more than 700 college and university presidents in the U.S. to sign a statement in support of DACA. She communicated directly with SOU’s DACA students more than a year ago to assure them of the university’s unequivocal support, and has consistently told all segments of the campus community that the institution’s core values begin with the protection of students’ academic rights.

“I am a historian by trade, and understand how important it is to heed the lessons of the past,” President Schott said. “If we don’t protect the vulnerable among us, how long will we be safe from those same risks?”

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